Thursday, August 25, 2011


Last night was the opening night for AwanaAwana stands for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed from the Bible verse: "Study to show yourself Approved unto God, Workmen, who Are Not Ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15. Children learn to understand God's word and memorize Bible verses. They play games and earn awards with a group of their peers.  Awana meetings are held at churches all over the world.

All of my four youngest grandchildren are joining Awana this year and I'm volunteering alternate nights at each church.  Last night I worked with a small group of first, second, and third graders.  As my grandchildren are growing up (two already living in a different state) I'm really going to miss "Grandma, can you help me?"  Many of you are going through the same emotions and some of you are waiting to hear those words from great grandchildren.  The reason I'm bringing this up, is the fun you have have enjoyed with children in your own family can continue by volunteering to work with children outside your family.

There are so many places that need your help.  The first that come to mind are those I've volunteered for in the past:  Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the schools.  Most don't take much preparation time and the benefits for you and the children you help can be countless.  I'm sure you can find areas that you've seen with your children that can use your help. 

Last night my grandson, age 8, and granddaughter, age 11, went to his and her class and I went looking for my volunteer spot.  That first night is such fun and filled with the electricity of smiling children as they walk hand in hand with their parents to their new classes or stop to hug a leader they had last year.  It's just like the wall to wall children you get to experience when you visit schools.  Since my grandson is now in 3rd grade and turned eight on Sunday, he has graduated from Sparks to T&T (Truth and Training). 

I haven't taken my training yet, so am a helper and not a leader with my own group.  The group I'm helping with consists of seven children eager and ready for the fun and learning ahead.  While the leader was working with a couple of children on their first Bible verse, I checked on a couple of girls, one working on a zig saw puzzle and the other a word hunt while waiting for their turn. 

I lost count of the number of times I heard, "Can you help me?"  Kindergarten, first, and second graders seem to enjoy whatever project they are involved in.  I'm not involved in the games this year, so was with the group getting the classes sorted out while the children played their games.  After study time we went in for singing and story time.  I'd forgotten how much fun the songs with hand and body movements are for the children and the adults around them.  We were all laughing pretty hard at the end.  Story time included questions about the Bible such as how many books in the Bible, how many in the New Testament and how many in the Old Testament.  I must admit I didn't know the answer, but I do now.  My knowledge was put to shame by the second grader who raised her hand and proudly said, "27" when asked how many books are in the New Testament. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the little ones and look forward to meeting my new group next week at my second church home with granddaughters age 9 and 7.  What are your ideas for volunteering to help children in your community?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Summer means RAGBRAI for many Iowa bicyclists.  My oldest son has talked about riding in it before, but it wasn't until I moved here that I really saw the impact of thousands of bicyclists riding for the sheer enjoyment.  My youngest son decided to join in for the first time this year and the minute it ended they began  preparing for next year.  They rode for one day this year, 56.1 miles on the day they chose.  They aren't the only ones getting ready for next year.  Check out the website for RAGBRAI and you can find the countdown until next year's ride broken down to the second. 

My daughter-in-law and I each took a car to pick up one of my son's and his bicycle.  The kids all rode with her until we got to the guys and we left with one parent and his two children.  Riding through a group of bicycles always makes me nervous because I have found they don't always watch the cars, but I wasn't near as nervous riding through the group of RAGBRAI riders.  Even though they were in huge groups and took over the roads, they still paid attention to what was going on around them.  The intersections were a little tough to maneuver because there were so many of them and they kept coming and coming and coming, but we made it in and out of town without a hitch.  When I saw Michele Bachmann's's bus drive past, I felt pretty lucky to be driving only my little Toyota Sienna. 

My sons enjoyed meeting the people as much as they enjoyed the ride.  One son invited a busload of folks to park at his house and use his shower and air conditioning. Both commented what great house guests they were, even with wall to wall people sleeping on the floor in the air conditioning.  Both boys had stories of how nice the groups of people they met were.  They also commented on the fact that the entire day, they could count on one hand the number of discarded water bottles they saw laying alongside the road.  This is definitely one event that they are proud to have participated in.

What struck me most about the day, as a proud mother, was my son's conversation with his children on the way home.  The only thing he talked about for most of the ride is how he is going to help his children prepare for a part of next year's ride.  They joined in the fun and are looking forward to the ride as well.  They both got new bicycles a few weeks before and were already building up their distance taking rides with their dad.  My two other granddaughters had not learned how to ride their bikes at the time of RAGBRAI and have since not only learned to ride, but are taking long bike rides with the entire family.  It has definitely been a bike riding summer.  By next spring I'll have sold my snowmobile and trailer and replaced them with a trailer for my recumbent bike and I'm on my way to join in the fun. 

Have you taken any long distance bicycle rides?  What is your favorite route?  Think about joining us next year at .RAGBRAI.